Please don't list this on a work's page as a trope. Examples can go on the work's YMMV tab.
Ah, the ballet...
"The marvel is not that the bear dances well, but that the bear dances at all."
— Russian proverb
Any work of media that attract viewers not because they're particularly entertaining—many of them, in point of fact, are dull or otherwise pointless—but because of some gimmick involved in the production: Any work for which the method by which it is created is more interesting than the result.
Featuring noteworthy non-actors in major roles (or celebrity guest stars for television episodes) can qualify something for this trope: we don't go to movies with Paris Hilton in them to see how well she acts, after all. Particularly large casts, shockingly difficult productions, unique production methods... anything that's used to sell a work more than its actual content can qualify it for Bear status. The Oner is usually a Bear as well, and Live Episodes too. A Tech Demo Game runs a high risk of being a bear, if the developers cannot balance its gimmick with good gameplay. Another type of Bear is The Item Number, especially if it ranks high on the Fanservice scale and/or features a very well-known "item girl" (or guy).
Note that this doesn't include works in which outside events make us more interested in it - The Dark Knight certainly got a considerable amount of attention as a result of Heath Ledger's death, but it wasn't a Dancing Bear. For that, see Reality Subtext.
See also Come for the X, Stay for the Y, when the work has a lot more going on than just a bear that dances, and Just Here for Godzilla, for cases where that happens, but the audience doesn't care. See also Overshadowed By Controversy, where a Dancing Bear is especially well-known for controversial moments regardless of other factors.
And no, it's not meant to be followed with"painted wings".
The primary reason people read 100 Months is because it is the last work John Hicklenton completed before he died, and indeed completing it was the only thing that delayed him taking his own life.
The DC Comics series 52 was sold not on its content but on the fact that it was a 52-issue miniseries that would (1) publish an issue a week for a year (2) in "real time" (i.e., the events of each issue took place over the course of the week following the week during which the events of the previous issue took place) (3) to fill in the year of time skipped during DC's "One Year Later" event, (4) during which Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were missing. It was generally well-received, but led to a brief trend of weekly miniseries for DC, some of which were ... less good.
Cupcakes - Pinkie Pie tortures and murders Rainbow Dash. As with The Human Centipede mentioned below, the premise is more horrifying than the execution, and the fic is better remembered for leaving an impact on the Friendship is Magic fandom than for the actual quality of the writing.
Also, Rainbow Factory, partially because it's sometimes described as "Cupcakes, except it's Rainbow Dash torturing/killing Scootaloo" and partially because of WoodenToaster's Creepy Awesomesong of the same title (Fun fact: The fanfic was inspired by the song!).
Similarly, the fan video Double Rainboom is known mainly for the ambitiousness of it's premise: a full-length fan-made episode of professional quality. Needless to say, whether or not the video itself is any good in and of itself is up for debate.
Many of the most well-known fanfictions, like My Immortal, are notable for being so unbelievably horrible that they circle around and approach masterpiecehood from the other side. That is to say, the draw is not so much the content, so much as the legendary badness of the work itself.
The Subspace Emissary's Worlds Conquest isn't known for being particularly good or particularly bad — rather, it is best known for being flabbergastingly long. Written nonstop ever since Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out in 2008, it clocked in at 3,548,615 words by the time chapter 208 was finished. For comparison, War and Peace is about under 600,000 words. The author has said that he hopes he can finish it all up at chapter 300, but wouldn't be surprised if it continued all the way up to chapter 400.
Avatar - The whole fuss about the technological achievements necessary to pull the movie off: 3D digital film cameras, motion capture refinements, etc. Arguably the never-fully-disclosed but definitely astronomical budget and the marketing-induced hype.
The 2003 film Russian Ark is a Dancing Bear. A 90-minute exploration of Russia's legendary museum and historical building the Hermitage, the film moves over centuries, features a literal Cast of Thousands, has amazing costuming, good performances, and so on. It's also The Oner.
Alfred Hitchcock regarded Rope as a failed experiment in stretching the limits of making a film as few cuts as possible. Film critics and historians would agree that the technical execution left much to be desired, but the writing and performances are still well regarded.
Gladiator wouldn't have qualified purely as a result of Oliver Reed's death ... but the fact that the producers made a big deal about how they used special effects to allow the movie to be completed puts it deep into this territory.
TRON was viewed by the Hollywood community, when released, as a Bear. Many people who went to see it went simply to see the computer animation, not out of any expectation of high entertainment.
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, a 2002 film produced entirely by Inuit, is a reasonably good movie ... but the fact that it won 20 international awards and was nominated for ten more can really only be explained by people's appreciation for the fact that a film made by, for, and in the Inuit community was able to dance at all.
The film Redline allegedly went for this by getting star Eddie Griffin to crash a car as a publicity scheme. It failed miserably because car fans, presumably the target market, were outraged at the destruction of an extremely expensive and rare car as part of the stunt. Although according to Griffin's side of the story as told in "Freedom Of Speech" the car crash was completely unintentional on his part and was not a publicity stunt.
The movie Timecode is not just done in Real Time, but in real time with a four-way split screen throughout.
The sole selling point for the movie The Cure for Insomnia was that, with a running time of 87 hours, it was the world's longest movie.
This was William Castle's entire schtick. Perhaps the most famous example is The Tingler, which involved the "spine-tingling" sensation people experience when afraid being caused by a deadly monster. Certain seats in theaters showing the film had devices installed so that at certain points the viewer would feel something crawling up their back...
For Trail of the Pink Panther (1982), Blake Edwards and MGM/UA used mostly-unused scenes from The Pink Panther Strikes Again (1976) of the late Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau for the film's first half by putting them into a different storyline via new scenes with the series regulars. The second half, after Clouseau "goes missing", is a Clip Show of his greatest hits tied together with a reporter investigating the matter. Pitted against a number of production obstacles, Edwards' new film became a dancing bear that spiked the audience's curiosity to come out and judge if he could make it funny. The fact that Edwards couldn't became clear when Sellers's widow successfully sued him and the studio for tarnishing her late husband's image. This proved a bad omen for the next film, 1983's Curse of..., which picked up where this left off to introduce Clouseau's Replacement Scrappy.
Dead Men Dont Wear Plaid is built around the clever editing and production tricks that make it seem like Steve Martin is directly interacting with the characters in old movie clips. Without those, there wouldn't be a movie.
The films of Ray Harryhausen have this kind of appeal. Most of them are not what one would normally call "good" movies, but they still fill people with a sense of wonder at Harryhausen's skill, patience, and attention to detail.
The Human Centipede, which is about three people getting sewn together anus-to-mouth. The premise is far more horrifying than the execution.
Fitzcarraldo is best-known simply because of its Troubled Production, and the fact that you're really watching people moving a ship through the jungle, even using techniques more difficult than the ones of the real event it's based on.
Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Sin City were novel when they came out in the mid-2000s because they were among the first major films to use a "digital backlot" which blended live action characters with entirely digital backgrounds.
For Sky Captain, the movie was also noteworthy for featuring Sir Laurence Olivier a full fifteen years after his death, via the use of careful editing of previous recordings. This was in fact the main reason Jude Law decided to be in the movie.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was sold on the spectacle of animated and live action characters seamlessly integrated across a cameo-laden full-length feature film.
On a similar note and premise, Wreck-It Ralph is starting to have the same effect as far as being cameo-laden goes. Only featuring video game characters this time.
Act of Valor is a feature length film showcasing active-duty Navy Seals using their actual equipment and methods.
Michael Jackson's This Is It wouldn't have been made if not for the fact that Jackson died before the concert series he was rehearsing for could take place, leaving the rehearsal footage that was shot for his personal use as the last footage of him performing at all, and thus of huge interest to his fans.
Escape From Tomorrow probably wouldn't be getting as much hype as it is were it not for the fact that the film - a dark surrealist neo-noir depicting a man slowly going insane - was extensively sneak-shot throughout Walt Disney Theme Parks
Sealed with a Kiss is generally regarded as, at best, an average and unimaginative film. But if nothing else many folks who've seen it or at least know of it appreciate the fact that, like Voices of a Distant Star above, it was animated entirely by one man.
Primer is mostly well known for having No Budget and being made by an engineer rather than anyone with a film-making background. And being impenetrably confusing.
Forrest Gump achieved much of its fame at the time for the use of digital technology to seamlessly incorporate Tom Hanks into historical footage.
The omnipresent Stan Lee does not make any cameo in X-Men: Days of Future Past. He explained that "It also could be they didn't want me to do the cameo because, without my cameo, the movie will make more money... You see, somebody watches the movie and the movie ends and the person says, 'Wow, I didn't see Stan's cameo. I must have missed it.' So what do they do? Right back to the box office, buy another ticket, and watch the movie again. So I think it's a big moneymaking ploy on the part of the producers."
South of Sanity, a Slasher Movie shot in Antarctica by the crew of a base stationed there.
Surprisingly for this form of media, Twitch Plays Pokémon is this, due to the fact that the game is controlled entirely by input from the chat, with anywhere from 50 thousand to 100 thousand people watching the stream at any time. What's even more amazing is that they've managed to beat Pokémon Red in a little over 16 days, and Pokémon Crystal in just over 13 days.
Fish Plays Pokemon has had over 21000 people watching a fish move about a bowl to play Pokemon Red.
The most widely publicized fact about Eragon was that the author finished the first draft when he was fifteen - he was nineteen by the time it was published (after extensive revision) and also received a lot of critical slack for that reason. Whether or not it has outgrown its beardom is a matter of debate.
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby received a lot of attention for the laborious way the novel was written. The author suffered "locked-in syndrome" and blinked his left eyelid to respond to a transcriber repeatedly reciting a French language frequency-ordered alphabet until Bauby blinked to choose the next letter. This took ten months. The book itself was well-received.
Look upon this lipogrammatic work Gadsby, in which a story is told without using a particular glyph (past 'd', prior to 'f') commonly found in this script, as is this particular saying.
To many people, War and Peace is remembered because it's one of the longest classic narratives ever written.
Similarly, Clarissa is remembered for being the longest novel in the English language.
Though Finnegan's Wake is made by the same author as the better known, better studied Ulysses, most people know the book for its odd, stream-of-consciousness writing style.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair is best remembered for its exposure of the unsanitary practices of the meat-packing industry. It is often used as an example of the muckracking genre. However, Sinclair intended the book to be an indictment of capitalism and a paean to socialism.
Henry Darger's The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, usually abbreviated as In The Realms Of The Unreal, is an enormous 15,000+ page work illustrated with loads of "outsider art" that is better known for its insane length and decades-long composition than for any artistic merits it might have (though really, the length and the large number of important illustrations make a wide release of the story very challenging, so it's not like people can simply pick it up at a library/bookstore/e-book shop to judge said merits on their own).
A fairly common element of the Philippine entertainment scene is the loveteam: an actor and an actress who are constantly paired with each other on projects. Many fans watch shows featuring these pairings simply because the actors are in a real life relationship, or the fans themselves are hoping for a real life romance to happen between the two. Producers often cash in on these by hyping the off screen romance instead of the project's merits. Worse, some often fabricate a supposed romance to generate interest.
The MMORPG genre (at the very least until World of Warcraft). Just the idea of playing with hundreds or millions of other people simply by plugging in your modem makes even the worst balanced exposure to the most annoyingly ill-behaved players tremendously appealing.
Many modern MMORPGs, especially the scads that South Korea churns out each year, sell themselves this way. Promos typically highlight the one or two things a game does differently from others while glossing over the fact that the rest of the game mechanics are identical to its competitors. When this is done well the token differences alone can hold hardcore players for years even when more innovative new titles appear, but if the new-ish parts of the experience aren't a big enough part of core gameplay the game won't be able to hold its userbase.
Leif Inge's 9 Beet Stretch - a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (which typically runs 65-70 minutes) digitally stretched to 24 hours without pitch shifting.
Karlheinz Stockhausen's opera Light contains a piece that is supposed to be played by a string quartet sitting in four different flying helicopters, their music then transmitted to a big hangar for people to listen to.
Another Stockhausen opus, Gruppen, calls for three separate orchestras to perform equally distant from the audience. This plan doesn't fit with many concert halls.
Erik Satie's "Vexations" is a single page of piano music with a suggestion to play it 840 times in a row. The first performance to follow Satie's suggestion to the letter took place in 1963, with a tag team of pianists, and lasted over 18 hours.
The 1984 album Neptune by “one man band” Celluloid is notable for being entirely played on the Mellotron.
John Cage's 1952 'composition', 4'33". It's famous for being "four minutes and 33 seconds of silence", often either regarded as a sublime anti-music or an Emperor's New Clothes of modern art, YMMV. More technically, it's not silence but ambient white noise: literally the sound of an orchestra sitting there quietly in front of an audience with their instruments for four minutes and thirty-three seconds and not playing them.
Similar to Duke Nukem Forever below, while critics are mixed on the quality of Guns N' Roses's forever-delayed Chinese Democracy, fans are amazed it was released at all. Its actual musical qualities are submerged beneath the fact it notoriously took fifteen years (and a record-breaking alleged $13m) to make.
Gustav Mahler's eighth symphony for large orchestra and multiple choruses was billed in its premiere as "Symphony of a Thousand" (most modern performances fall a few hundred short of that number); Mahler privately mocked this, calling it a "Barnum and Bailey production."
Various novelty covers of songs, from 8-bit remakes to ukelele renditions to metal versions of decidedly non-metal songs (or decidedly non-metal versions of metal songs).
For example: Charm City Devils recorded a metal version of "Man of Constant Sorrow," the bluegrass song popularized by O Brother, Where Art Thou?.
Any posthumous "collaboration," particularly one where the artist has been dead for a while.
This video contains perhaps the worst rendition of the James Bond theme you will ever hear (zip forward to the 14-minute mark). What makes it fascinating is that it is performed by miniature autonomous robotic helicopters.
The Muppet Movie had an extremely well-received scene of Kermit riding a bicycle when he first sets out on his journey to become a Hollywood star. This scene was popular because it was assumed that it must have been difficult to film, but it was actually pretty easy to film and, to the annoyance of the producers, it took focus away from the extremely difficult scene in which Gonzo is carried away by a bunch of balloons.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is more famous for its troubled production than anything else. The technical aspects (including a spectacular aerial battle above the audience) are the main reasons to see the show.
The NintendoWii was the console version of this when it first came out; the platform was sold not on the quality of its games, but on the fact that it had a unique control mechanism. The Wii later moved away from this late in it's life note 2010 in particular saw the release of Kirby's Epic Yarn, Donkey Kong Country Returns and Metroid: Other M, which were all marketed on their other assets beyond motion controls. while still purporting the dancing bear aspect for the "casual gamers". Debates continue to this day among the gaming community as to how much of a dancing bear the Wii ultimately was...
The Wii U can arguably be said to be a Dancing Bear that failed to capture an audience. The Gamepad was supposed to be Nintendo's next big thing, but so far reception has been lukewarm from gamers (who see it as nothing but a dancing bear) and unfortunately has failed to net as many curious buyers from the casual crowd as the Wii Remote and Nunchuck did. Nintendo's solution has been, so far, trying to now sell the system almost in spite of the Gamepad, with major releases like Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. being marketed by their decidedly non-dancing bear qualities.
Fracture, made even more egregious with the fact that its sole selling point - terrain deformation - feels underutilized.
Years later, Red Faction Guerrilla utilizes a newer version of the technology. Still a game based entirely around environmental destruction, but, most critics agreed, a far more entertaining one.
Heavy Rain attracted attention for its highly cinematic presentation and unique gameplay that focused heavily on quicktime events. The game was most ambitious for having its story as its selling point, thus the cinematic presentation and streamlined gameplay. While critics praised it for its unique qualities, many gamers and critics alike panned it for its poor writing.
Touhou, although the fact that the cast is made up almost entirely of Cute Monster Girls might also have something to do with it.
It's also a Dancing Bear on another front: If it weren't for its characters and massive array of fan works, it would be simply be dismissed as yet another shmup series. In fact, many fans don't even play the games.
Also, it's one of the few Bullet Hell games most people are familiar with. And for good reason! Some of the bullet patterns are mind-blowingly complex! (Just look at the page image for Bullet Hell.)
Dust: An Elysian Tail was designed, programmed, and illustrated almost entirely by Dean Dodrill, with only voice-acting and music coming from other people.
Though not developed by one man any more, Minecraft allows each player to become their own "one-man/woman development team" in-game, due to the absolutely huge game world note How huge? How about approximately eight times the total surface area of the planet Earth? Of course, you can go beyond even that, but the game glitches up very badly.and seemingly infinite building possibilities boggles the mind to say the least.
Skylanders is a fairly enjoyable series, however what makes it stand out (aside from being attached to the Spyro the Dragon franchise) is the toy gimmick. You have to purchase toys in order to play certain characters.
Duke Nukem Forever definitely qualifies, if only for the fact that it's spent over twelve years in development and has already won numerous awards for its repeated delays, even outliving the game's own developers after they were axed by their publishers. At this point, just the fact that this game exists and can actually be played is reason enough for many to buy it.
L.A. Noire for its motion/facial capture technique.
Also for some, because it revived the detective game genre with very realistic crime scenes.
The cancelled Guitar Hero 7 was going this route. They were going to make a new guitar that was close enough to the real thing that it would make the game exponentially more difficult, but not close enough to teach you how to play, and give you venues that responded to the song. They spent so much money on these new features that they couldn't afford a good soundtrack, which is kind of the point of music games in the first place.
Lately both Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Black Ops have had a very tiny and, depending on one's opinion, useless gimmick in their DLC maps. Two good examples were the "Usable Elevator" and "Destroyable Shortcut" in Black Ops.
Alpha Waves is pretty much known only for the fact that it was a 3D platformer made in the 16-bit era.
For much the same reason as Skylanders, Disney Infinity is mostly notable for two things; it has Disney characters and sets you buy as figures, and it's a toy box you can make other games in.
Lose/Lose is a space shooter that permanently deletes a random file in your Home folder for every enemy you kill. The creator even admitted that the game was made as a funny little experiment and was surprised that people actually played and enjoyed it.
Although the Atari 2600 was a dedicated games console, and not a general-purpose home computer, Atari released a "BASIC" programming cartridge for it in the late-1970s. This came with a keypad (to overcome the lack of a keyboard), but otherwise had to live within the existing hardware limitations such as 128 bytes of RAM (tiny against even the most limited home computer such as the unexpanded ZX 81 with 1024 bytes!)note Home computers used RAM (rewritable memory) to store data and programs, so they needed a decent amount of it. However, the 2600/VCS was designed to play games stored on removable read-only memory (ROM) cartridges, so- under its intended use- RAM was only needed to keep track of sprite positions, scores and the like- not to hold a whole program. That- along with the fact RAM was expensive in 1977- was why the console didn't include much of it. Unfortunately, if you want to write and edit your own programs on the machine itself, it has to fit in the ludicrously small RAM! and no built-in text generation hardware.note Text had to be created using the existing graphics facilities, and the 2600 had only a single line of screen/sprite memory which meant graphics had to be regenerated "on the fly"! Given that, it's astonishing the designers got it to work at all, but it's still generally accepted as being bizarre and unbelievably limited compared to even the most crude "real" home computer BASIC.
1K ZX Chess fits most of the rules and a computer-controlled player into an unexpanded Sinclair ZX 81. The fact that it's missing castling, promotions and en passant and that the AI can only look one move ahead is beside the point- 1KB is a ludicrously small amount of memory. note The program itself is only 672 bytes long (i.e. takes up less memory than 9 rows of 80-column ASCII text)! It's generally considered an incredible achievement, even if it's not likely to kick Garry Kasparov's backside.
Why is this version of Donkey Kong with blocky, monochrome, text-based graphics impressive? Because it shouldn't be possible at all. Sinclair's ZX 80 (the predecessor to the better-known ZX 81) would normally blank the display- however briefly- whenever it was doing any form of processing.note Even dealing with keypresses caused brief flicker. The issue was that the CPU also handled most of the screen generation and couldn't do both at the same time. The ZX 81 had the same design, but featured additional hardware that allowed the display to (optionally) remain on at the expense of processing speed. This made games with any form of moving graphics intolerably flickery at best... unless you were very clever with your timing.
Portal started off as this, being focused on puzzles that require thinking with non-Euclidean portals, and was first released in The Orange Box compilation alongside the heavyweights of Half-Life 2, its episodic sequels, and Team Fortress 2, seeming very small by comparison. However, its easy-to-grasp gameplay, darkly witty writing, and main villain proved that there was a lot more than just a simple gimmick, and it became the most acclaimed game out of The Orange Box, eventually getting a sequel.
The hacking mechanic in Watch_Dogs, allowing the player the chance to abuse Everything Is Online in a Wide Open Sandbox, has many gamers salivating at the thought and preordering. Whether the game itself is any good remains to be seen.
Axe Cop is popular in large part because of the sheer novelty of a comic written by a 5-6 year old boy, albeit with art and interpretation by his 30 year old brother, a talented professional cartoonist.
Fred Perry's Gold Digger animated miniseries The Time Raft. Its poor acting, rudimentary animation, and extreme Schedule Slip are forgiven because Mr. Perry did everything (besides the voice acting). He wrote the script, created the music, and drew every single frame of this hour-long animated movie by himself.
Hilariously now, Disney apparently considered the original Toy Story a Dancing Bear, with promotion centered on the fact that this was the first entirely CGI feature-length film. Some of the original trailers featured only the darkest sequences and an 'adult' score different from the movie's, and practically 'forgot' to tell the viewer that this is a family film about two toys wanting to return to their owner.
In some ways, this was Pixar's view of the film as well. At the time, Pixar was primarily in the business of making 3D rendering technology, including hardware platforms sold to VFX studios, though they never sold particularly well due to the high cost of sufficiently advanced hardware at the time. To the extent that they did any film, it was usually shorts designed as tech demos of what their rendering technology was capable of, in order to help drive sales. Toy Story, by being feature length and entirely done with their tech, was a particularly ambitious tech demo to prove that yes, an entire movie could be made this way and not just a few special effects scenes. Fortunately for Pixar, it turned out that they were actually really good at making movies too, and kept with it.
The failure to properly invoke this trope is actually a theory as to why Kung Fu Panda 2 did not make nearly as much in the U.S. as the first Kung Fu Panda. Just like every DreamWorks Animation film before it, Kung Fu Panda was sold domestically on its huge A-list celebrity voice cast (which was insanely good, even by their usual standards) without revealing too much about the story. The film did very well, but it turned out to be the last time that DreamWorks was able to play the "celebrity voice" card domestically to any effect. Every project they did after Kung Fu Panda that tried to employ it (Monsters vs. Aliens, Megamind) disappointed at the box office, and that coupled with the diminishing star power of a lot of the original Kung Fu Panda actors ("Jack Black IS the Kung Fu Panda!" didn't have quite the same ring to it in 2011 that it did in 2008) meant that selling the sequel the same way they sold the original wasn't a good idea... but unfortunately DreamWorks did just that, and as consequence Kung Fu Panda 2 pulled in $50 million less domestically than the first film.
An In-Universe version occurs during the VeggieTales Christmas video, "The Star of Christmas." The protagonists are attempting to open a musical called "The Princess and the Plumber" on Christmas night in order to escape the fate of using their talents to sell dental wax. While some effort is made towards advertising it based on its merits as an actual play, Cavis Appethart repeatedly sells new actors and backers on it with the promise of using fancy, newly-invented electrical lights on the sets and costumes.